WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s finances still look grim but not quite as bad as the government suggested after the election.
At that time, new Premier Brian Pallister suggested the deficit was over $1 billion.
But the government released final accounts for the last fiscal year today (2015/16) and they peg the deficit at $846 million.
Finance Minister Cameron Friesen was asked repeatedly how his government could have been so far off on their estimates.
“It is an improvement of $165 million but you should not take this as an indication that things are in a good place,” he told reporters.
Friesen says revenue was “slightly better” than expected in certain areas, accounting for the difference in the numbers.
He continued to blast the opposition NDP, saying the deficit they left was double what they projected in their final budget.
“They outspent every year,” said Friesen.
He’ll release his second budget in the spring. Projections from the government show the deficit number might actually grow beyond $900 million by the end of next year.
Friesen repeated a canoe metaphor that has been a favourite of Premier Brian Pallister.
“When you put your hand on that rudder and begin to turn, it takes some time for that vessel to respond,” he said. “Manitobans should not expect that somehow the challenge before this province just got significantly easier, I think that would be the wrong message.”
The full financial reports are available here.